So, I’ve pulled out the electric blankets, bought some spray foam insulation, and started preserving the last of the summer produce. I love the taste of fresh tomato sauce, so naturally those have been canned some weeks ago. Now I’m just getting around to a new love, roasted red peppers under olive oil.
I resist eating squash throughout the spring and summer. Even in early fall, like now, I normally try to resist. Something about squash really calls out for crisp, sunny weather to me. And now that I finally have some, I’m stocking up.
The itinerary was Milan, Como, Lazise, and Venice. And it could not have been a more perfect way to celebrate being Mr. and Mrs. Fictional Kitchen. If you are anywhere near a Venchi Chocolates, you must absolutely get some gelato. It is amongst the best I have ever eaten!
Once again, I have for you a story of something out of nothing. A glut of asparagus. A rapidly defrosting freezer. And then, one of the prettiest dinners I have made in quite some time.
The base is puff pastry from the story. A mixture of cream cheese and chopped herbs is topped with a single layer of trimmed, thin asparagus. Baked for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, and then you can present a dish that looks like you have worked for hours. I envision this as a lovely appetizer at cocktails or a light lunch with a salad of tomatoes. So hurry off to the kitchen and no one else will be the wiser.
My family has very strong opinions about polenta. It’s one of the foods traditional to the valley I was born and holds an important spot in my mother’s food identity. Goodness forbid you try to serve her a quick-cook polenta or something out of those vacuum packs. She will have no mercy.
For her, polenta is cooks for a full hour., over low heat with occasionally stirring. I remember a vacation in which we went skiing with some friends. One of the adults was a professional chef. After a long day outside, we can back to find him whipping polenta in the kitchen. I thought my mother was going to have a conniption.
This is not my mother’s polenta.
Don’t get me wrong: I love her polenta. It is creamy and rich without the aid of butter, cream, or cheese. But this is a quick dinner polenta. Delicious with a pile of sauteed mushrooms and a Caesar salad. Crisped up in a pan. Since it is so fast, it works in the early summer too. It would be fantastic topped with fresh tomatoes and cheese or perhaps sauteed zucchini with garlic.
serves 2 as a main
1/2 c course ground cornmeal
2 c water
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Once boiling, whisk in cornmeal. Return mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
Preheat a skillet pan with some olive oil. Pour hot cornmeal into skillet pan. Fry 2-3 minutes or until golden and crisp. Flip and fry on other side. Slice and serve.
As some of you may know, I have been exceptionally busy this summer with a wedding in less than 6 weeks. But I was able to get away for a little bit thanks to work and see some of the West Coast. I’d have to say that San Francisco is even more beautiful than I could have imagined. If I was going to move to the West Coast, it would be at the top of the list of destinations!
The hills were all that they were chalked up to be. I packed Moleskine and thick socks, which were not exactly fashionable but saved my feet. I was really impressed and inspired by the landscape and flora. It must have a very similar climate to the northern Italian coast. I saw Bougainvillea, succulents, and honeysuckle. The Presidio was one of the strangest places I’ve ever seen. It seemed like a Disney-fied version of a military base, which I suppose it is.
Fisherman’s Wharf was foggy when I stopped by but I was able to see a few sea lions. I instead spent more time in the Embarcadero, a magical tunnel of all the food you could ever want to eat. I was able to pick up some amazing dried beans and Rancho Gordo and a bite of cheese at Cowgirl Creamery. I could have spent hours in the Ferry Plaza market outside! Unlike the indoor stores, the outdoor stalls are only available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.